Melbourne Stars go top of the table with seven-wicket win

Pietersen hit an unbeaten 44 to anchor the Stars’ chase

Eerily similar to the crux corresponding match between the teams one season ago, a shell-shocked Perth Scorchers batting order were routed by an energetic Melbourne Stars attack at the WACA during Big Bash League action on Saturday (January 14).
The Scorchers’ vaunted top order was ripped apart early losing 5 for 34 inside the opening eight overs before a lower-order fightback, epitomising the type of pluck defining the Justin Langer coaching reign, produced a brave recovery to muster a competitive total of 7 for 134.
However, on a flat wicket and a fast outfield, the total wasn’t nearly enough as the Stars chased down the total in the 18th over with seven wickets in hand with Kevin Pietersen unbeaten on 44 and Marcus Stoinis 40 not out
A year ago, the Scorchers were humiliatingly dismissed for 94 – after being 5/26 at one stage – which cost them a home semi-final and an eventual loss to the Stars at the MCG. Time will tell how costly this defeat will be but it has ensured the Scorchers, who came into the match on top of the ladder, are mired in a logjam. Now sporting a 4-3 record, the Scorchers have the same number of wins with three other teams, including the Stars who have a game in hand.
Famed for their penchant of defending sub-par totals, the Scorchers fluffed several chances – none more costly than Michael Klinger dropping a skier to hand Pietersen a reprieve when he was on a tentative 4. Rob Quiney, the hard-hitting Stars opener, was also dropped in a tough chance by Ashton Turner at slip when on 5 and he eventually made an invaluable 35 from 23 to ensure the innings started with momentum to ensure Pietersen could guide his team to victory without taking too many risks. Twenty-two runs off the 17th over effectively sealed the deal and ensured another memorbable victory for the Stars at the WACA.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Klinger notched the two runs needed to become the first batsman to reach 1500 career BBL runs. However, the Scorchers captain fell in the second over triggering a major collapse that had the WACA faithful collectively stunned.
Michael Beer, the former Scorchers player, ripped the heart out of the home team in the third over by trapping Ian Bell (golden duck) and replicating the deed with Cameron Bancroft (0) to leave the Scorchers reeling at 3 for 7.
Things spiralled further when Shaun Marsh (8) lazily flicked straight to fine leg in the next over to leave the Scorchers teetering at 4 for 13 and seemingly headed for an infamous place in the record books. However, in what proved a masterstroke, Andrew Tye (42 from 33), who was listed to come in at No.11, was elevated up the order in a desperate bid to arrest the carnage and upset the Stars’ rhythm. Tye received a life on 9 when he was dropped by Luke Wright in a hot chance at point but his counterattacking changed the course of the game.
Undoubtedly aided by some luck, nonetheless, Tye’s thrashing proved mightily effective and he combined in a valuable 44-run sixth-wicket partnership with Turner (16) before his cavalier innings ended by David Hussey’s brilliant leaping catch.
Fuelled by Tye’s audaciousness and buoyed by revived boisterous home support – a record WACA crowd of 21,171 – the Scorchers dominated the backend of the innings with Ashton Agar (29 from 20) and Tim Bresnan (20 off 15) combining for a 34-ball unbeaten 51-run partnership, the highest ever eighth-wicket partnership for Perth.
However, it wasn’t enough and means the Scorchers are in jeopardy of not making the final four for the first time in the BBL’s history, while the Stars will now be eyeing a home semi-final.
Next up, the Stars face the Heat in Brisbane on Tuesday (January 17), while the Scorchers play their final match ahead of the finals against the Hurricanes in Hobart on January 21.


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